One of law enforcement’s favorite tactics to secure driving under the influence (DUI) charges against a suspect is to conduct a blood test back at the station. Using a blood draw, which cannot be refused unless they face immediate license suspension, police analyze the sample to get a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level reading. Even though this has been fairly common practice in all 50 states for years and years now, the United States Supreme Court has recently ruled it is unconstitutional.
No Warrant, No Blood
Having your blood drawn is a pretty intense and intrusive procedure, especially if you are hemophobic or trypanophobic, or have the fear of blood or needles, respectively. Due to the underlying aspects of blood draws, the Supreme Court determined they violate the Fourth Amendment in that they subject a person to an unreasonable search and seizure, the property in mind being their own blood. The only way the police can use a mandatory blood draw is to first secure a proper search warrant. Analyzing a person’s blood can also expose private information about them that they may have otherwise liked to keep away from the eyes of others, such as whether or not they have a sexually transmitted disease. The ruling was 7-to-1.
The Supreme Court also reviewed whether or not breath tests impeded a person’s right to fair searches and seizures. In a 6-to-2 decision, they determined that they did not. Justice Alito was quoted as saying that “the physical intrusion [of a breath test] is almost negligible” and that “the effort is no more demanding than blowing up a party balloon.”
How the Ruling Affects the Law
Warrantless breath tests or no, the decision on unconstitutional blood draws is fairly significant. People all across the country who have been charged or sentenced on blood-related evidence alone may now be able to successfully defend themselves or file for an appeal. At Castle & Castle, our Denver DUI lawyers are interested in seeing how this ruling will pan out and what it can do for our DUI defense clients. Additionally, if you need our help after being arrested for a DUI, even if you were not forced to submit to a blood draw, you can call 303.800.3273 and set up a free case evaluation with our staff.